Scottish First Minister and Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond has resigned following the rejection of Scotland's referendum on independence.

Just over 55% voted against Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Nearly 45% voted in favour of independence in the historic referendum.

"For me, as leader, my time is nearly over but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream will never die," Mr Salmond told reporters in Edinburgh.

He said he would not accept the nomination as leader of the party at an annual conference in November and that he would then resign as First Minister.

"I think that party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership," he said at a press conference.

Mr Salmond added that it had been "the privilege of my life" to serve as head of the Scottish regional government.

Earlier, he called on the leaders of the three main pro-union parties to live up to the promises of further devolution.

He said he accepted "the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland".

Better Together campaign leader Alistair Darling said the referendum result was a "momentous day not only for Scotland but for the United Kingdom as a whole".

He said Scotland had "chosen unity over division and positive change over needless separation".

Attention is now turning to the further powers promised by the British government.

British PM reacts

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the draft laws to give Scotland more powers will be published by January.

Mr Cameron said that commitments made on new powers for the Scottish parliament will be "honoured in full". 

Speaking at Downing Street this morning, Mr Cameron said it was right to give Scots their say but that the debate has been settled for a generation.

He promised to give Scotland more powers "in the next parliament", but he wants English MPs to have their say over English tax, welfare and spending decisions.

Mr Cameron said it is time for the United Kingdom to come together and move forward.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he wanted the coalition government to deliver new powers to Scotland, saying Scots' rejection of independence was a signal for wider constitutional reform across all of Britain.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said that "change begins today".

He said: "We will deliver on stronger powers for a stronger parliament, for a stronger Scotland."

Mr Miliband said Scotland's decision was a "vote for change" and that having worked to keep the country together, they must now change it together.

He said: "This was a vote for No because we know we are better together.

Kenny hopes Scots heed unity calls

The Taoiseach has said politics is very much alive in Scotland and it has been a clear and decisive decision.

Enda Kenny hoped that people would listen carefully to the words of Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond and support the call for unity.

He said there are implications for Northern Ireland and people there want the institutions to work properly.

Global reaction to Scottish referendum result

Elsewhere, European Union and NATO officials expressed relief at Scotland's clear vote against independence from Britain.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen congratulated Mr Cameron and said he was sure the UK would continue to play a leading role in keeping the US-led defence alliance strong.

Spain's two mainstream national parties welcomed the outcome as showing that the northwestern region of Catalonia would be better off staying in Spain.

Catalonia is expected to announce bitterly opposed plans today for its own independence referendum.

In Brussels, the European Commission said the Scottish vote was good for a "united, open and stronger Europe".

EU officials hope the outcome will strengthen chances of Britain voting to stay in the union in a promised referendum in 2017.

Elsewhere, US President Barack Obama welcomed the result and congratulated Scotland for its "full and energetic exercise of democracy."